Saturday, January 22, 2011

Some Thoughts About The Resurrection

So, as we looked at Acts chapter 20, and specifically at verses 7 & 8 in my previous post, this time I want to look at a related issue because I think that major elements that would and could help us understand the events of Yeshua, and the Apostles lives in the gospels and in the book of Acts have been missing in classical, normative Christian teaching. Long ago the understanding of the biblical calendar (found in Ex. 34; Lev. 23; Num. 28-29; and Deut. 16) was lost to the majority of those that go under the banner of "Christian" ("Christian" is a word that many groups, sects, and denominations have gone under, though the beliefs and practices of said groups have varied dramatically n many cases, and has done so for nearly two-thousand years).

A question I have come to ask myself often is this: "If the biblical feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, etc. were and are pictures ("shadows") of the Messiah, then why do the believers and followers of Messiah no longer observe, practice, and learn about those festivals?" Let me expand upon this. Why is it that those that believe in the One to whom these feasts picture and point to (Jesus/Yeshua) do not celebrate these feasts, but the people that largely reject Jesus/Yeshua as the Messiah, celebrate the very feasts that Christians say are a picture of Him?!

I understand the arguments (reasons given) for this. probably the most notable and prominent argument comes from Colossians ch.2, v.v.13-17 (though there are other arguments proffered as well) where we read the following: " And you--being dead in the trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh--He made alive together with him, having forgiven you all the trespasses, having blotted out the handwriting in the ordinances that is against us, that was contrary to us, and he hath taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross; having stripped the principalities and the authorities, he made a shew of them openly--having triumphed over them in it. Let no one, then, judge you in eating or in drinking, or in respect of a feast, or of a new moon, or of sabbaths, which are a shadow of the coming things, and the body is of the Christ." - YLT

We are told that the Sabbath, New Moons, and Feasts were and are only "shadows" and therefore we no longer need to set our eyes on them, but rather, we should set our eyes upon Jesus, because He is the reality of those Feasts and appointed times (for a more in-depth treatment of this, please see my previous posts "It's Time To Start Understanding The Bible...Biblically!" and "Another Thought On Shadows..." - I recommend that you go back and read these if you have not already, or if it has been a while and therefore may not have the arguments fresh in your mind). And I agree, Jesus IS the reality - which makes it all the more perplexing to me as to why we no longer celebrate the very times and feasts that picture/foreshadow Him! After all, Christians celebrate Christmas today in commemoration of His birth? They celebrate Easter in commemoration of His resurrection. Were not His birth, death, and resurrection foretold and foreshadowed in the Tenakh (O.T.)?! So, would not today's celebrations of those events be merely "shadows." Those same three events - absolutely central to Christian faith and belief, were and are shown in already existing biblical festivals/feasts - the feast of Tabernacles ("...and the word became flesh and dwelt - literally, 'tabernacled' - among us" - John 1:14), Passover/Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits ("But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept...But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." - 1 Cor. 15:20,23) respectively.

So, if the biblical feasts are no longer observed in commemoration of the One to whom they pointed because they are simply "shadows", then why do Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter? In other words, the question could be asked "is Christmas and Easter a shadow/commemoration, or the reality"? And the obvious answer is that they are not the reality (because Jesus is the reality). Does it not seem that we have rejected one set of shadows, feasts and celebrations for another? And the most perplexing thing about it is this: the biblical feasts of Tabernacles (Sukkot), Passover, and Firstfruits were and are given to us by God Himself, and inherently contain the meaning within them. But where are Christmas and Easter in the bible? And why do we hear on the radio every year at Christmas time the exhortation to "keep Jesus as the reason for the season" and "let's put Christ back into Christmas." Do we ever hear at Passover time "Let's keep YHVH as the reason for the season" or Let's put the red-sea crossing back into Passover?" The themes of the biblical feasts are inherent in them, because God Himself gave them and embedded them with their meaning. Are the themes that are today ascribed to Christmas and Easter inherent in them? If your answer is yes, then I would simply ask this - if they are not in the bible, then from whom and by whom do they derive their meaning? And, does anyone else share these festive seasons (like non-believers, and even those that worship in the ancient, Pagan ways, like Wiccans for example)?

When Yeshua rose from the dead on the third day (which was indeed "Sunday" - no doubt about it) after Passover, was it the fact that the day was Sunday that made it special? Or, does the fact that the resurrection happened on Sunday, now make Sunday special? I would like to offer an answer to both of those questions - and that answer is no. What made the day of the resurrection special was, first and foremost, the resurrection of course! But the significance of it goes deeper.

Never, never did Yeshua, in speaking beforehand of His death and resurrection (cf. Matt.16;21; 17:23; Mark 9:31; Luke 18:33 for just a couple of examples), say that He was going to rise from the grave on "Sunday." And why not? I believe that it is because the day of the week was not an important factor. The fact that it was to occur on the third day was and is the important factor. But why is that so?

When one reads the Tenakh, one quickly begins to see that recurring numbers appear time and again. And when one delves deeper into that fact, one begins to see that patterns, or better yet, themes begin to emerge. If one were to follow the "theme" of the number three, one begins to see that it is almost always associated with death/resurrection (or, an allusion to the same). For example, Yeshua Himself gives the narrative of Jonah; specifically, the fact that that he was in the belly of a great fish for three days and three nights as an allusion to His death and resurrection. So, Yeshua shows us the allusion within the narrative of Jonah of Messiah's death, burial, and resurrection within three days.

In the context of the biblical feasts, is there any significance in any of them concerning three days? Yes, there is. The biblical feast of "Firstfruits" just happens to occur on the third day after Passover! On that day, the High Priest was to take the "firstfruits" of the harvest, and wave them before the LORD (cf. Lev. 23:10,11 for example).Yeshua spoke of a "corn of wheat" going into the earth, and then springing forth from the ground bearing much fruit (cf. John 12:24). Pastors and Teachers know that He was making a reference to Himself - how He would go into the earth only to spring forth from it once again in resurrection, bearing much fruit ("much fruit" - meaning - many others who, through trust in Him, would one day go into the earth only to "spring forth" again at the resurrection). And as I quoted above, Paul related Yeshua's resurrection to the feast of Firstfruits when he called Messiah the "firstfruits" of them that "sleep" (ie. those that have died) in 1 Corinthians chapter 15.

So, was the resurrection of Jesus on Sunday a biblically foretold and foreshadowed event? Was the fact that He rose from the grave on Sunday the important element (and in reality, most likely sometime during the night - either late, late Saturday night, or early in the morning on Sunday - either way, while it was still dark, as can be seen from reading the resurrection portions of the gospels), or was it the fact that He rose from the grave three days after Passover, which would be on the Feast of Firstfruits, that made it significant?

Years ago, Evangelist Ray Comfort gave a teaching (the title of which I forget now) wherein he used 1 Sam. 11 in his teaching, where Nahash the Ammonite came up against the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead. The men of Jabesh asked Nahash to make a covenant with them (no doubt to try to spare their lives), to which Nahash agreed - with one stipulation - that they all thrust out their right eyes! Without their right eyes, they would be greatly weakened if they ever sought to fight back. Ray used it as an illustration of how the enemy seeks to weaken Christians in their evangelistic endeavors. For our purposes, I would also like to use this narrative as an illustration (for full context, please read 1 Sam. chapter 11). When a crime is committed, one of the first things that Police search for are "eyewitnesses." And one important element in being an eyewitness is, of course, having eyes. An eyewitness reports what he/she saw, primarily, and in the reporting of what they "saw", they become a "witness."

The Hebrew word for "witness" is 'ad' or 'ed' (of course, that is the English transliteration). The Hebrew word that is used for the biblical feasts is "mo'ed" (or, "mo'edim" in the plural). Notice that the Hebrew word for "witness" ('ed') is embedded in the word "mo'ed." In other words, the festivals of the LORD could be interpreted to be His "witnesses!" And of course, we know that they do indeed "witness" of Messiah, as many Pastors would attest. Could it be that the enemy has convinced the Christian Church (much like Nahash sought to do with the men of Jabesh) to pluck out their right eye, which would impair their "vision" which in turn would impair their "witness?" I find it interesting to note that the word 'ed' ("witness") is spelled with the Hebrew letters 'ayin' and 'daleth.' The letter "ayin" is represented by an "eye", and in fact, the Hebrew word for "eye" is "ayin!" Furthermore, Hebrew is written and read from right to left. So, the right letter of the word 'ed' is the "ayin" (the "eye")!!! To remove the letter "ayin" from the word 'ed' is to render it no longer a "witness" (becasue it word no longer be a word).

When the Church cast off the feasts of the LORD looooong ago, did it in effect pluck out it's right eye, by casting off the "mo'edim?"

Why does the Church fight so hard every year for Christmas? I believe it is because Christians feel that the birth of Messiah is very important...and indeed, it is! I think that Christians want to preserve what they perceive as the celebration of His birth...and rightly so. But most Christians know that December 25 is most likely not His actual birth date. Furthermore, I think many Christians hold Easter in even higher regard, because of the resurrection...and again, His resurrection is foundational to our faith. But do you know that Easter never actually coincides with Passover? In fact, some years, Easter occurs before Passover. How is it that we celebrate the resurrection at a time that never coincides with the actual time that we know He died and rose again?!? Let me repeat that last part - we know when He died and rose again! We still celebrate His resurrection today - shouldn't we celebrate it at the actual time that it happened? Wouldn't that make sense?

The great significance regarding the time, or day that Yeshua rose from the dead is not in that it was Sunday - it was the fact that it occurred on the third day after Passover - exactly on the feast of Firstfruits. If we are still celebrating that momentous event today (the resurrection), wouldn't it make sense to do it during the time that it actually happened? I mean, should we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence (as Americans) on June 12th? Or July 6th even?

I hope that in this post I have given readers some food for thought. My first passion (after Yeshua Himself, as HE is my Savior) is the word of God. I desire to learn it, grow in it, and direct my life (and family) by it. And I desire to share that with others. My number one message has been for the last few years now the following: Read your bible daily. Do what it says. And, as Paul said to the Thessalonians - "test all things; hold fast that which is good." I invite you to do the same. 


Kaboom said...

Those are really great points, and makes lots of sense once you just stop and think about them, instead of just jumping to conclusions. "Amen, brother!" (add southern accent here)

WV: miwating - an Irishman expressing impatience.

Anonymous said...

Nicely stated. A lot to chew on here. It makes sense...I have struggled with Christmas/Easter for many years now and I still don't fully understand why the 'Christian Church' refuses to see truth right before its nose. Perhaps I need to do some serious studying into the Feasts and see what God says. Any suggestions as to where to start? Thank you again in your faithfull proclamation of God's Word. A true blessing...more than you know. :) Blessings friend.

JRM said...

Thank you Jen for your comments. I think that there is a desire to celebrate His birth, and His resurrection, but unfortunately the celebrations happen at a time, and in a way that is foreign to the bible (and how the disciples and Apostles observed these things).

Two great books to begin with are: "A Family Guide To The Biblical Holidays" by Robin Sampson & Linda Pierce, and "The Feasts Of Adonai: Why Christians Should Look At The Biblical Feasts" by Valerie Moody. Both are great resources. Of course, in the bible they can be seen first given in places like Ex. 34, Lev. 23, Num. 28-29, and Deut. 16. They are demonstrated in numerous places after that throughout the scriptures. The two books I listed above are a good starting point to learning the significance of them, and how they relate to the Messiah.

I hope you and Greg have a great time learning about them - the scriptures begin to open up even more when the feasts begin to be explored.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the resources! Why isn't this aspect ever talked/preached about in church? Why are the Feasts not given importance in the Christian faith? Or, as I have heard, only important to the Jewish peoples? What you said in the post and your reply makes sense in light of scripture. Thank you again, friend. :)
Blessings, Jen

JRM said...

They were forsaken long ago (though there has ALWAYS been a remnant that kept to the biblical feasts).

Tradition can be VERY powerful, and hard to break away from. However, there is a growing number of people who are "awakening" to the fact that some of the practices of the Church are not biblical. I was just approached a week or so ago at work by a woman that I work with who apparently became aware of the fact that our family celebrates the biblical feasts, and asked me if I would email her Mom (whom I've never met) because she (her Mom) has become interested in these things through watching Zola Levitt's program (Zola Levitt Ministries) on her computer!

Blessings to you and your family Jen!